Short Story Saturday: Red Roses and Russian Roulette

Short Story Saturday: Red Roses and Russian Roulette - Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Hello everyone! As part of Short Story Saturday, I have posted another short story, this one entitled Red Roses and Russian Roulette. Please enjoy.

She did not know how she entered that room. It was devoid of any portal to the outside world. Each of the featureless walls that loomed above her felt as if they were closing in even though in truth they did nothing of the sort.

A distinct odor wafted through the air. The smell of roses. It reminded her of melancholy and despair.

It was dark. There was no illumination save for the lone light bulb hanging dead center in the room. It swung on its own as if it were swaying in the wind but there was no breeze.

There was a table in the middle of the room along with two wooden chairs. Something lied on top of one of the tables but the poor illumination and her distance from the table, even as short a distance as it was, made it impossible to identify. A strange figure sat on one of the chairs at the table.

It was a man. His skin was a deep shade of crimson. He wore blue jeans and a black shirt with a logo of some heavy metal band on the front. The man’s head was completely covered with what appeared to be a demon’s mask whose color perfectly matched his flesh. In fact, it was impossible to discern where the mask began and his neck began.

His hands were deformed looking more like hooves. One of them pointed to the wooden chair opposite him. He beckoned her to join.

She took a step forward. A hollow metallic sound reverberated against the walls and clattered throughout the chamber. It was as piercing as a gunshot. The woman was forced to cover her ears though it did little to muffle the sound. It was as if it was bouncing against her skull.

Every step was agony. Several times she howled as she fell to the floor in pain, only to eventually rise and continue once the noises temporarily ceased.

Not once did she ever think of surrendering. She was not the kind to give up easily. Her entire life was a testament to that. Something inside her told her joining this man at the table was the only way to find a means to escape. The pain was not enough to stop her.

Besides, she grew more used to the noise with every step. Slowly, she grew resistant to it, then numb to it. Soon it ceased to consciously register even though, deep down within, the scars were still incisored into her soul.

She finally arrived. She observed for the first time the object on the table. It was a revolver.

Her eyes slowly drifted back to the man. It did not appear as if he were burnt. Perhaps body paint could give his flesh that color though it was still curious how there were so many natural looking blemishes on his skin. An extraordinarily gifted artist, perhaps.

His mask appeared organic. As the man breathed, the mask seemed to contract and move naturally as if it were a real face rather than one purchased at a local costume shop.

A voice inside her grew louder. It started as a whisper and grew into a shout. This was no man. Sitting before her was a demon.

The demon’s hoofed hand remained fixed on the empty seat. Though he said nothing, she could somehow read on his emotionless face that he was insistent that she join him.

Perhaps this should have frightened her. Perhaps any of this should have frightened her. The enclosed room, the demon, the revolver, the darkness, any of this should have at least unnerved the woman if nothing else.

Instead, the woman felt nothing. She often felt nothing. Numbness described her emotional state more often than her other emotions combined.

She obediently took the seat opposite of the demon and sat at the table.

The demon picked up the gun with his right hand. He opened the chamber with a dexterity that should have been impossible for one without fingers and showed her it was empty. Then he reached into one of his pockets and pulled out a single bullet. It was placed into one of the chambers and the cylinder was spun. It was stopped randomly and placed back into the frame.

He slid the gun to the woman. He made motions to her indicating he wanted her to pick up the gun and place it against the side of her head.

She looked aghast. Slowly she realized what was happening. Yet she could not do otherwise. She felt compelled to play.

The woman picked up the gun. She began to sweat. Her hand was clammy as she held the gun in her hand and placed it against her temple. Several times the weapon nearly slipped, forcing her to wipe both her hand and her gun against her grey dress with a deep, dark crimson rose floral design. Streams of perspiration flowed down her forehead and collected on her back.

She stared at the man as she did this. He sat patiently. Unnervingly so. He did not move at all. Not a flinch, not a twitch. It was as if he were a statue.

The woman gazed into his eyes hoping to find some sort of emotion. Anger would do, even hatred. Instead, she found nothing. Quite literally. It was as if she were looking into two featureless voids.

Thoughts of the past flooded her mind. Her father was an abusive man. “Spare the rod, spoil the child” was more than a mere expression but a mantra that guided his life. He used that metaphorical rod liberally as almost any excuse was enough for him to apply it whether it be a minor offense such as spilling milk to things a young girl would have no control of such as a football team failing to beat the spread. Not just her but her mother was often also a victim of this man’s indefensible whims.

Yet he always apologized with freshly cut red roses. It was always enough for her mother to take him back.

She squeezed the trigger.

Click.

She slid the gun back to the demon.

In one swift motion, he picked up the gun, placed it against his head, and pulled the trigger.

Click.

He slid the gun back to the woman. She picked up the gun.

The woman did not feel a thing when her father died. He had antagonized the wrong people outside a bar and received several stabs into the gut for his trouble. The news of his death, especially with the suddenness and manner in which he died, would have been traumatic for most six-year-olds but not for her. She did not feel sadness nor relief. She felt nothing. It had all the emotional impact of just being told it was Tuesday. Deep down she must have known it did not mean that she had escaped.

She squeezed the trigger.

Click.

She slid the gun back to the demon.

In one swift motion, he picked up the gun, placed it against his head, and pulled the trigger.

Click.

Her mother may have been nicer than her father but it was only by miniscule degrees. Instead of physical abuse, it was mental abuse mostly in the form of neglect. When it came to meals, school, and activities with her friends, she was mostly on her own. Often the woman showed more care to her paramours’ gift of roses than she was her own kin.

The mother was still quick to blame the young girl for anything bad that happened in her life. Her late father’s ire toward his family? Due to the daughter’s poor behavior. He was such a gentleman before she was born. A bad breakup? The boyfriend was driven off by her daughter, whether her actions or her mere existence. Money problems? It’s all her school lunches or after school programs that caused financial difficulties.

When it was discovered that the young girl was doing poorly in certain classes, the importance of education was downplayed. When the little girl dared to suggest that she had aspirations of college, the mother was quick to crush any such silly notion stating that even if they had the money, university was not for stupid people. She should concentrate on getting a man.

She squeezed the trigger.

Click.

Five clicks. Five empty chambers. This meant only one thing.

Her heart raced with elation and dread. As relieved as she was to have survived her ordeal, it also meant the grizzly death of her horned antagonist. In her head, she screamed at him to stop. In her head, she reached out to him to pull the gun from his hands. In her mind, she prevented his demise.

She just sat there silently awaiting the inevitable.

An inevitable that never arrived.

Instead of pulling the trigger, he once again spun the cylinder.

Though not a word had been spoken between the two of them the woman somehow knew that this was not against the rules. Somehow she realized it was well within his purview to do this if it was certain that the next attempt would kill.

He stopped the cylinder and placed it back into the frame. He pulled the trigger.

Click.

He calmly slid the gun toward the woman. The game had started anew. She picked up the gun.

Secretarial work is hardly glamorous work nor is it very lucrative but considering the circumstances which she emerged, she was proud to have that job. It represented a means of escape from her dire home, away from her negligent mother whose infinitesimal interaction was mostly berating her verbally. Her apartment was small but cozy. It afforded her some luxuries with the most important one being an escape from home.

She met a guy. A young man with a sweet smile who lived on her floor. His true personality was hidden within a deceptive exterior.

For the first time in a long while, she was gripped with emotion. She received kindness for the first time in perhaps her life. She smiled broadly feeling happiness she had never experienced before when he arrived at her doorstep on their first date with an arm full of roses.

She squeezed the trigger.

Click.

She slid the gun back to the demon.

In one swift motion, he picked up the gun, placed it against his head, and pulled the trigger.

Click.

When the two decided to move in together, it was not quite the “happily ever after” she had dreamed of and deserved. The young man turned out not to be the proverbial handsome prince of fairytales. Quite the contrary, unfortunately.

He was verbally and physically abusive. Whenever she would return home late or seemed to be too friendly with another man, the two would get into an altercation where the man would impugn her good character. It would often escalate to him hurting her physically. At first, it was a just a rough grasp or a push that was a little aggressive but nothing too serious. It soon escalated to slaps and punches and angry shoves into bookcases or doors, down short steps or into windows and tables.

The young man was emotionally manipulative as well. When the young woman threatened to leave or call the police, he would threaten to kill himself, even going so far as placing a revolver to the side of his head and telling the woman that his blood would be on her hands.

She would always relent. Deep down she loved the man, his abuse notwithstanding. He’d always apologize afterward and give her a dozen freshly cut red roses.

She squeezed the trigger.

Click.

She slid the gun back to the demon.

In one swift motion, he picked up the gun, placed it against his head, and pulled the trigger.

Click.

Five clicks. Five empty chambers. This meant only one thing.

The woman picked up the revolver and played with it in her hands. The sweat had mostly evaporated by now. Her silent apprehension of before was replaced with deep introspection and thoughts of her past, her present, and her future.

She was actually feeling proud. Just before she arrived in this room, just before she was forced to play this perverse game, she had managed to find the resolve to leave her boyfriend. For real this time. Not just a bluff as it had been the last couple of times when she left the apartment with her things packed only to return shortly after. This decision was made after a particularly nasty altercation that left her sprawling on the floor with a large black eye and a cut above her lip.

He apologized profusely. The young man begged her to stay as she packed up her things and left the apartment. Her only concession was to not call the police. Foolishly she did not want to see him in prison.

As she walked out the door, several times he grabbed the revolver and placed it against his head, threatening to do the unthinkable. Only this time, she managed to ignore him. Lo and behold, his gun was not even loaded.

Tears welled as she pressed the button on the elevator. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see the young man curled into a ball weeping on the floor. To think, the two were so happy when she announced she was pregnant just a week before.

The woman turned her gun toward the demon. She was ready to fire.

The demon did not move. His literally empty-eyes seemed to express expectation, almost a yearning over this potentiality. He was almost begging her to shoot.

Why she did not, she could not say. There was nothing stopping her much like there was nothing stopping her from packing her bags and leaving her boyfriend for all those many years. He couldn’t monitor her twenty-four hours a day, after all. Her friends at work and in the apartment would have helped too if only she would have asked.

She pointed the gun at her head. Something compelled her to follow the rules much like she felt compelled to stay with the young man. Was it love? Was it fear? Was it the years of abuse fragmenting her sense of reason? Was it something else, something impossible to describe? Who could say?

Not this time, though, she told herself. She removed the revolver from her temple and pointed at the demon once again.

This time she would shoot. This time she would stay away from her boyfriend for good.

The sweat returned. Her hand once again felt clammy. She was forced to wipe her hand one last time.

Her finger began to squeeze. The hammer began to cock. It was ready to fire.

Her finger slowly released the trigger. She placed the gun to her head. She could not explain why. It was not within her to do the opposite of her nature.

The woman spun the cylinder. The demon had shown that it was well within the rules to do this when the next shot was inevitable. Why should she be the one to deliver the fatal blow to the demon? Leave it up to fate and with any luck, he’d be the one shooting himself. Perhaps it will work itself out.

Obviously, this game would last at least a few more rounds. After all, it was a one in six chance. How likely was it really that she’d shoot herself now?

She squeezed the trigger. The hammer pulled back and was thrust forward.

Bang.

The woman awoke immediately and sprang from her bed. She hastily packed her things and grabbed her keys and cell phone from the nightstand. The woman did not even change out of her pajamas.

A quick glance at her phone revealed about a hundred different texts and voice messages left by her boyfriend including one that was sent only seconds ago. The woman believed it was this noise that woke her from her slumber. She skimmed through them and it seemed like the last one made her the happiest.

With her purse in one hand and her luggage in the other, the woman sprinted down two flights of stairs until she reached the front desk of the hotel. Her breathless need to check out surprised the clerk who did what was requested, though she too like her counterpart earlier was deeply concerned over her fresh black eye and cut lip.

A hasty and unpersuasive excuse was given. The clerk, unfortunately, did not quite have the gumption to call the police and let the woman go without further interrogation much like another clerk earlier allowed her to check in without further investigation of her wounds.

The woman drove recklessly home. This time she was sure things would be different. She was convinced he had learned his lesson. She was convinced he would change his abusive ways. He now knew the consequences of his actions that she would leave him for real. It was not just a bluff. Certainly now he knew better than to hurt the one he loved so dear.

His last text message said all she needed to hear. “Please come home. I love you so much. I don’t know what I’d do without you. I don’t even know if I could live. I got you a dozen of the best freshly cut red roses I could find to show you how sorry I truly am.”

If you enjoyed this story, then perhaps you’d be interested in reading more by pressing the “short story” tag below or clicking this(short story) link or this(genre and tags) link or this(story list) link. I would also urge you to share this story with others and comment below. Please check out my books page as well by pressing here. Thank you for reading my story.

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